Saturday, September 3, 2011

Walk This Way

As a pastor, I am in the hospitals and nursing homes a great deal. I have visited church members and family of church members in Edgefield, Columbia, Augusta, Charleston, Greenwood, Aiken, and Greenville. In most of these, I don't even need directions to the rooms anymore. Some of these institutions are very esay to navigate, while others are like a maze.

University Hospital in Augusta is one of the easiest to find places in. The sections are color coded and clearly marked. Even the rooms on each floor are arranged so that the higher numbered ones are to the right of the nurses station and the lower ones are to the left.

I remember visiting one family whose three-year-old was having survery at MUSC in Charleston. I left very early to get there before the child's appointed surgery time. I arrived at the hospital in time. I went to the information desk and gave the attendant the name of the patient. She told me where he was, and gave what seemed like clear directions to the waiting area.

I thought I had followed the directions to the letter, but wound up at a dead end. I turned around, wound around another corridor, and found a nurses station. I asked for more directions. They told me I was in a completely different area, and told me how to get to the correct place. I walked a long way, but found a place that looked right. Of course, it was the wrong place. By this time, I was feeling rather silly and frustrated. A nurse at an information desk told me that I was close, and told me how to get to the correct area. Again, I could not find it.

Finally, I asked once more and a kind nurse sensed my frustration. She got up from her desk and said, "Come with me. I'll take you there." I was relieved until SHE got lost too! However, by this time, we both had a good laugh and found the family together.

In John 14, Jesus is telling His disciples that His time in this world is coming to a close. He tries to comfort them by telling about this wonderful place where He is going. Not only is He going there, but He said, "My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.”

That sounded wonderful to all of them, except Thomas. Thomas gets a bad reputation sometimes, and is even called "doubting Thomas." However, I like Thomas. He usually asks the questions I, and many of you, would ask. Thomas pipes up and says, "Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”

How many of us could find our wy to Heaven yourselves? No one can. In fact, Adam and Eve were in Paradise and still lost their way! When we try to find Paradise alone, we are no better off than I was at MUSC in Charleston. We get directions from the world like, "look out for number one," "think positively," and "you can do anything if you set your mind to it and work hard enough." We set out with that kind of thinking and believe we're on the right path, only to find a dead end or end up where we started.

Jesus' reply back to Thomas is wonderful. Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." That statement is the heart of the Gospel. We couldn't find our way to God, so He sent Jesus to SHOW us the way! Like the nurse that helped me, God got up from His throne and became one of us to show us the way to Him.

Remember that you cannot navigate this world on your own. You will mess things up and get yourself turned around and lost. Asking Christ to lead you and following Him exclusively is the only way to God and Heaven. Give your life wholly to Him, and follow where He leads!

I'd rather see a sermon, than hear one any day;
I'd rather one should walk with me, than merely tell the way.
The eye's a better pupil and more willing than the ear,
Fine counsel is confusing, but example's always clear;
And the best of all preachers are the men who live their creeds,
For to see good put in action is what everybody needs.
I soon can learn to do it if you'll let me see it done;
I can watch your hands in action, but your tongue too fast may run.
And the lecture you deliver may be very wise and true,
But I'd rather get my lessons by observing what you do;
For I might misunderstand you and the high advice you give,
But there's no misunderstanding how you act and how you live.
Edgar A Guest

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